We are seeing more families outside enjoying the warm weather. This makes me think about the wonderful outdoor sensory activities that can happen. Sensory activities engage our seven senses. Yes, I said SEVEN! We have our normal five senses: hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing, and touch, but did you know we also have two internal senses called vestibular and proprioceptive? Our vestibular sense tells us where we are in space by the change in the inner ear fluid. For instance, hanging upside down engages this sense. Our proprioceptive sense is related to touch because it tells us how much pressure is being put on our bodies. For instance, getting a good hug engages our proprioceptive sense.
Our senses are important because they tell us about our world, how we fit in it and how we can interact with it. Given that children use their senses to explore their world, it is only natural to engage their senses. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a sensory experience for your child.
First, when selecting an activity make sure that it is a sense that your child does not mind engaging. All people have sensory profiles, essentially what we like and don’t like. If your child regularly avoids or has trouble dealing with some senses, the activity may need to be altered. For instance, if your child does not like loud noises, play soft music instead of loud music.
Second, allow your child to engage in as little or as much sensory play as they would like. Parents can create an activity that is 30 minutes long, but if the child can only take 10 minutes of the activity go with that. It helps to teach children that you are listening to their needs and what their limits are. Finally, make it fun! It does not have to be a very long and drawn-out activity, just something that is fun. Using everyday items like pillows, toothbrushes, or food can be a sensory experience.
If you need ideas about sensory activities, you can visit The Parenting Center’s Facebook or Instagram pages for ideas. Find an activity that you both enjoy, engage your senses, and build your relationship with your child. Happy sensory exploration!